Coaching och ledarskap Idrottens roll i samhället In English Tider som flytt

Is this the end of a beautiful friendship?

I still remember the first day we met. As a young and very nervous 19 year old I was abroad for the first time. Yes, in those days, and where I came from, that was not all that uncommon. In fact, it was the first time I sat foot on an airplane on my own. Some would say that I have spent the rest of my life catching up on that. I cannot say that it was love at first sight. On the contrary, I felt you were rather odd. You had habits that I certainly was not used to. Crossing the street in your country could be lethal, mainly because cars came running from the wrong direction and looking left was not something that I was familiar with. The breakfast you served was either ”continental” meaning I was hungry again after 30 minutes. That was about as long as a slice of white toast with jam lasted. Or it was big enough to go for a normal lunch. And it was cooked. The weirdest thing however was the fact that in your country most bathrooms had carpets, something I still do not understand.

From that first meeting our friendship slowly grew and, I would say, developed into love. Thanks to work later in life I had the opportunity to visit many times and you took me to some of the finest places on earth. Yes, another love of my life is golf and it was magical to get to experience some of those pieces of land, called the links, next to the ocean where golf has been played for generations.

After a while you and I got to know eachother really well. In 2005 the relationship that I was then in had gone a bit stale. I was looking for options where I could get out, to continue to grow and develop. You provided me an opportunity for which I will be forever grateful. In August we, me and my family, packed our home in boxes to throw ourselves fully into your arms. We went to live in a rural and friendly area where one of the best golf courses that I have ever seen is located. The start of our new, deeper relationship, was a bit rocky. Many things were new to us and without the friendliness of the people that I worked with, and the people that we met, our relationship would have ended quicker than it did.

As most relationships ours grew stronger with time. You only had to look at me at your front door (there was a system at immigrations called Iris which meant that a machine could recognise my irisis to let me through) to know that I was welcome. I learnt to appreciate your habits and in fact, picking up the Evening Standard on my way through the London Underground on a Friday night became one of my favourite pastimes. For five years we had a rather complicated distance relationship as I divided my time between Stockholm and your place. Love, however, is strong and can endure also pressured times.

Today is January the 31st and the divorce that you started talking about long ago is to come into effect. What I did not realise back in 2005 was that the rural part of the country that my family came to was to be one of the most pro-Brexit areas in the whole of Britain. The people that I met and became friends with are now divided into two. The Brexiteers and the Remainers. The latter have turned into Rejoiners. It truly is a sad day and I cannot tell you how sorry I am that my children will not have the chances that I once had. You say that we will always have a special relationship. Perhaps. But today something fundamental in that relationship is changing. And I am so sorry to see you go.

Goodbye Britain.

Coaching och ledarskap In English

Leadership of a new decade

I have put more thought into this post than what I usually do. Still, I am sure that should it go viral, which I very much doubt it will, it will cause more discussion than any of my previous posts collectively. Leadership is a difficult thing.

To discuss this without having at least a PhD in a related area may be to open up for trouble. I am an essay shy of a Master in Educational Management and I have held leadership roles for the last 30 years. In no way does that make me an expert but it means I have spent quite a lot of time thinking about leadership.

What sent me into thinking mode this time was an article I read over the holidays. James Hatch is a retired serviceman of the US Navy who was wounded in combat in 2009, on a mission to rescue an American hostage. At 52, James is a freshman at Yale University.

James Hatch writes about his Navy Seal service that;

– ”Every single day I went to work with much better humans than myself. I was brought to a higher level of existence because the standards were high and one needed to earn their slot, their membership in the unit.

In two sentences Hatch summarises what has been a basic principle of most successful teams over many years. The high performing group is always superior to the sum of the individuals and their abilities within it. However, every now and then, stories of how these ”high standards” are set and maintained leak and when the NHL had its #metoo moment just before Christmas it was a disgraceful story about a leadership, thought to be much outdated in this day and age, full of bullying, racism and abuse. All there to try and differentiate between those that can manage to rise to the standards (of the coach) and those that cannot. My guess is that should James Hatch tell us what his experience of leadership in the navy was like, some similar stories would come out. In fact, if I and many of my friends were to talk about our experience of the military (which at the time was compulsory for young men in Sweden), it would not be that pretty when it comes to leadership. Having said that, hockey players would still contribute a lot of their and their team’s performance to their coach. I, and my friends, would say that the superior in charge of our group in the military made us perform outside of what we thought we were capable of. What effect that had long term is however a bit more unclear.

That leadership in sport, where extraordinary physical and psychological performances are highly required, is not always as humane and sound as we would hope came through loud and clear in the British department for culture and sport Duty of care review in sport, in 2017. Similar patterns and problems have been seen in other high performance programmes across the globe.

As I continue to read the article by Hatch my mind goes spinning when he describes the meeting between his own often low self esteem with the, by others, so called snowflakes of the university. The snowflake analogy insinuating these young people would view themselves as unique, just as every snowflake. Nothing could be more wrong Hatch says. These youngsters are smart, hard working, many of them first generation Americans and when it comes to discussing difficult subjects they are not uncomfortable, as he is.

As I read this I am confident that the generation z that is now storming into the workplace and in many aspects have already taken over sports, demands a different leadership. One where being wrong is not the end of the day, but where not giving it a go is unimaginable. The performance of the group will continue to be greater than the sum of the individuals, but only of we make disagreement our best friend. No one person will ever be able to have all the future answers. And leadership is to be smarter than everybody else. Collectively.